Acclaimed author Ismail Kadare has brought pride to Albanians, but some question whether literature should be viewed through the lens of patriotism.
By Manjola Hala for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 30/10/09
Ismail Kadare (left) receives the esteemed 2009 Prince of Asturias Award. [Getty Images]
A major Spanish foundation awarded the country's equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Prince of Asturias Award Laureate for Letters, to Albanian literary icon Ismail Kadare.
In announcing this year's winner, the foundation called Kadare "the pinnacle of Albanian literature who, without forgetting his roots, crossed frontiers to rise up as a universal voice against totalitarianism".
Kadare, 73, considered his nation's leading essayist and poet, lived throughout the communist period in Albania fighting totalitarianism with his writings. Soon after the collapse of Enver Hoxha's regime in 1990, Kadare sought political asylum in France.
While his role in Albanian culture is undeniable, and most Albanians are proud of Kadare's literary achievements, some bloggers today reflect a larger philosophical disagreement as to what the latest prize signifies. They disagree on whether it recognises Albanian culture, promotes the country, or solely emphasises Kadare's literary skill.
Alidea captures the general mode by characterising Kadare as "the writer who made the Albanian language feel proud". La_rosee agrees and gives voice to the collective hope that Kadare will go on also to win the Nobel Prize soon.
Lulian Kodra is surprised that Kadare accepted the award, since Spain has not yet recognised Kosovo and remains a staunch opponent of its independence. By contrast, Monda sees no reason for Kadare to reject the prize.
According to rruga02, Kadare deserves the award because he has contributed mightily towards promoting Albanian culture. That view of literature is contested, however, by Arbri09. For this blogger, writing is art, not a form of public relations. Its purpose isn't to advance political positions or help advertise a country.
Kadare is unique, writes Onufri. "No other Albanian writer gets even close to his genius … despite those who think they do," he declares, adding that he has met the man in person.
The Asturias Award laureate, Onufri says, is a "frighteningly sharp thinker, and [at the same time] a very reserved person".
Alproud sums up a widely-held view. Kadare, he writes, is the most famous Albanian literary figure in the world, and as such, is a precious resource.